November 01, 2022
Houston, TX – Today, Harris County Public Health (HCPH), through its Community Health and Violence Prevention Services (CHVPS) Division, and HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest is launching a pilot program to assist injured survivors of violence in overall healing from the trauma associated with their injuries. The program also seeks to reduce the number of recurring violence in targeted communities.
The Hospital-Linked Violence Interruption Program (HVIP) will initially assist injured survivors of violence who are admitted to an inpatient bed at HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest following a gunshot wound, stabbing or aggravated assault. These survivors must reside or are victimized in zip codes 77021, 77033, 77051 and 77090, which have reported more violent crimes than other zip codes in Harris County.
The pilot program with HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest is the first of two HVIPs that the health department is implementing. HCPH will launch another HVIP initiative with Ben Taub Hospital in the near future.
“It is critical to provide resources and assistance to injured survivors of violence in the immediate aftermath beyond the scope of medical help so that violence is not repeated,” said Barbie L. Robinson, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health. “This is where our trained Outreach Specialists and Hospital Coordinator Liaison from the program step in during those critical moments to offer non-medical support in a variety of ways to these survivors and their families. Our collaboration with staff at HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest will definitely ease the process of assisting these individuals in a hospital setting.”
In August 2021, Harris County Commissioners Court approved the creation of the CHVPS Division under Harris County Public Health. HVIP is one of three programs within the division. Harris County contracted with the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (HAVI) for technical assistance in the creation of the program.
"We are very excited to partner with HCPH in the launch of this much-needed program,” said Shiree Berry, MD, Trauma Medical Director at HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest. “We understand that violence is a public health issue and it takes collaboration with community partners to address the full impact it has on our patients. The resources provided to survivors through this program will address social and mental aspects surrounding violent acts beyond the surgical and/or medical treatment we focus on in a hospital setting. We believe these services will be key in reducing the recidivism rates we see in our trauma program."
An integral part of the program is the in-person care provided by Outreach Specialists to injured survivors immediately after they are admitted to the hospital for medical treatment of injuries from violent incidents. These Outreach Specialists, otherwise known as Credible Messengers, meet with survivors at the bedside at the most critical moment to engage and offer non-medical services by HCPH and its partner agencies. The goal is to assist with recovery and help survivors avoid future violent incidents and injuries.
Support and assistance will continue after survivors leave the hospital. HCPH’s new Accessing Coordinated Care and Empowering Self Sufficiency (ACCESS) Harris County program will provide long-term, intensive case management of these individuals through a coordinated care approach. In collaboration with other agencies, ACCESS Harris County will direct them to access a variety of support services, including employment, mental health assistance, substance abuse prevention, childcare, transportation, food and housing to name a few.
Studies estimate that up to 41 percent of patients treated for violent injury in urban settings are re-injured within five years. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that gun violence is the leading cause of death for children under 18. Both factors lead to high medical costs for hospitals and victims to treat injuries, as well as affect the health and well-being of those impacted by violence.
“Statistics show that once someone has been victimized by violence, there is a high chance that they can be revictimized in the future,” Robinson said. “We want to decrease the odds for our clients, stop violence from occurring by being at the bedside and intervening with the family and friends immediately to prevent any retaliation after the tragedy, and assist the person to heal holistically. We are hopeful these measures will end the cycle of violence in these targeted areas and create safer and healthier neighborhoods.”